October 23, 2012
As a kid, I had little to enjoy. Living in a very small town isolated from the rest of the world there was only so much a person could do. My father like most other men unfortunate enough to live here worked at a nuclear power plant. Off in the distance you could see the smoke constantly rising from those giant reactors, the smog added to the constantly bleak grey skies above making life so much more miserable. Many kids get the opportunity to lay in open fields covered with fresh green grass that can agitate your skin, yet you spread yourself on it anyways. They get the opportunity to plop themselves down on the fresh fields surrounded by endless forests and gaze at a sky with blue peaking out behind white fluffy skies. They are able to enjoy themselves as they ask themselves or each other what sort of pictures these clouds create, what sorts of imagery they add to the atmosphere.
I am forced to stare up at a sky that is nothing but a thick blanket of black and grey as I stand on a concrete driveway or street. I look up to the skies and can only guess that this is what pure sorrow was if it took the form of something tangible. At the same time, though, it's hard to say that the grey smog filling the sky is something I could ever touch. I've never left this town, and I most certainly will never be given the opportunity to jump high enough off of the ground, able to propel myself right up into that sad excuse for a sky and try and grab hold of the darkness.
That's the story of my sad existence for the most part. Wake up every morning alive, but not breathing. I stare out the windows to see if there is any change in weather, but my expectations aren't too high. Just like a child living in poor circumstances who asks for a brand new lavish toy for Christmas. He would love to see his dream come true, but he realizes his current situation most likely won't be permitting of such. The fence surrounding my house is chrome swallowed up by rust, which I believe must have somehow moved its way onto our small back and front yard and choked all life somehow. I sometimes convince myself that I do live up in those bleak skies, based on the unbearable dead the grass I can't bear to stand on.
Some of our neighbors have decided to put in artificial grass for their lawns, but I managed to convince my parents not to do so. That's one of my biggest problems with this town is how artificial everything is. There is no such thing as a wholesome home cooked meal. All food here is plastic wrapped in plastic. If you want a beautiful rose to give that beautiful girl you admire from afar that you want to win over you'll disappoint her. The reason for that is because all the flowers have been long since dead and the only way you'll see a rose is in the fakest chemical form on a shelf in the broken down shopping center. Fake food, fake plant life, and no reason to keep me from believing this life I lead is just as artificial.
I'm still just a kid. I know this although I'd like to believe being 12 years old makes me of an adult. The fact that my mother is sick all day every day in bed, and I tend to her like a shepherd tends to his sheep gives me reason enough to believe I have the responsibility of someone much older. I say it's like watching over a sheep because of how easy it would be to have her get lost without being attentive enough and making sure she stays within the confines of our home. She's mentally sick more than she is physically. My mom tried to kill herself several months ago for reasons she still hasn't shared with any of our family. Ever since then I've been left to watch over her to make sure mom doesn't "wander off" considering my father is stuck at the plant all day, working for that money that doesn't seem like it would be able to sustain any family at all.
If I had to guess why my mom wanted to leave this life sooner than later it's probably for the reasons I'm so miserable. She must have figured her existence was so grotesque. She must have seen the same terrible things I witness every day; the paved-over earth, the lifeless sky, and the displeasing rust on metal fences, metal rails, metal people. She was a stay-at-home mom before becoming a stay-in-bed mom. It's not as if she's confined to her room; no she'd be allowed to walk around the house freely. I mean, I was smart enough to hide all the knives and rope where she'd never find them. The truth is she's just too paralyzed by her depression to want to try and move around anywhere at all. It's hard enough to try and get her to open up her mouth for some food and a pill. That mouth is locked tight more stubborn than a goat is. It won’t tell anyone anything, and barely makes an effort to eat to try and stay somewhat healthy. I can understand why she doesn't want to eat up when I tell her she must though. Why would anyone ever want to chomp down on a piece of meat that was already so severely freezer burned and was clearly processed in a factory made out of the nasty bits of an animal.

As stubborn as my mom has become, I can sympathize with those eyes that always blankly stare at the white walls of her room. I can really make a connection with those eyes that watch the T.V. screen, but never absorb a single word of what the news says. She only keeps her eyes open, because of what I think is insomnia and a fear that if she shuts her eyes, a nightmare will take over. I feel bad she can't get any rest, but it's also kind of comforting to know there's someone else you care for awake when you yourself have a hard time getting to sleep because of how afraid you are monsters will pull you off your bed.
I used to go to school every weekday before my mom became so troubled and tried to kill herself. I didn't have too many friends, but I personally like having only a few people to worry about. No one tried to call me up and ask what had happened after my dad pulled me out of that public school. I guess I really wasn't worth any of my peers' time. I guess I shouldn't really care too much I mean I thought most of the guys in that school were jerks especially the older ones in the grade above. As hate-filled as I could become towards all of those robots in classes I could care less to stay awake in, it was still nice to be surrounded by life. Tile floors, carpet, steel-legged desks, plastic binders, all of these things just as artificial as the rest of the town, but within this only public school were at least a lot of eyes to try staring into. I soon learned that most eyes are even colder than my moms. Most eyes are just so frozen and have never had the flame of emotion put up to them to try and melt the hardness away.
I know pain, I feel it every day and right when I think I'm desensitized enough, something minor chips away at the ice with steel tipped picks. I wish I could harden myself some days. I wouldn’t necessarily be stronger, but I could at least ignore all of the minor projectiles of sadness thrown right at me that seem to drag me down so far. Wouldn't it really be that bad to have just been another robot amongst robots at school? To have assimilated and not troubled myself with the thought of how wrong the attitudes of other kids seemed. Bothered myself with staring at cracks and other small marks in the corners of the school rooms and really contemplated how they got there, if I could draw some sort of meaning from them?

There was only one bit of enjoyment I had in life, before I became a shepherd over my mother. After school every day, as the other kids boarded the buses rushing to get home to their work or concerning themselves with playing the same tired games with friends, I would go to a broken-down movie theater. Our town square was small, overshadowed by the same grey sky barely noticed or dreaded by many, but myself ( since all these simpletons around me seemed so content with this pitiful artificial way of living). The shopping center stood on the outskirts of the square which was in the shape of a pentagon. Why it was built this way with an ugly statue of one of the town's founders right smack dab in the center with a couple of benches where hobos always slept, I do not know. I suppose the town planners couldn't think of any great history to our town and made sure to milk the " fame" of one of the supposed founders and put his glorious bird poop-covered self in the center for all to see.
There were few shops. An electronic repair shop with a corny looking cartoon computer on the murky glass window display was just about the only small business that had survived a whole two years in our town besides a dreadful stereotypical Chinese restaurant that smelled of dead fish. Luckily there was one other place that survived our terrible economy, that place being the movie theatre. Yes, it was broken down. Yes the flashing lights surrounding the black lettering on the sign that told you what movie was playing never lit up anymore. But besides all of these malfunctions in the appearance, a singular screen still played movies throughout the day. I seemed to be the only one who ever bothered to go watch these movies besides a couple of old timers and teenagers " in love", so I was known as a regular with the ticket booth workers.
Usually the only films that would play would be the same old romantic comedies that followed the same pattern. Two people fall in love, there's some sort of " outrageous" mishap including hilarity, there's a whacky adventure to try and return to that love or to find new love, it's discovered and that's all, folks. Yeah I probably shouldn't have been so entertained by the same movies over and as I squirmed to get comfortable in a broken down theatre seat always first row, but I did. I loved these movies because of how perfect things seemed to go over for the main characters. How all the pieces were placed just right to allow true love to happen in the end. I knew how unrealistic a lot of these things that happened in movies were, but I wished so badly to be able to just enter into the world of one of those films, take on the archetype of the lover who loses then gains, and just do it over and over again.
I knew I would never be that happy as the goofy yet handsome guys on the screen tearing at the edges, and now I was even more miserable since I couldn’t go out to see the movies period. I finally had the ingenious idea of asking my mom, though, if she wanted to go out to see a movie with me. I know technically I'm supposed to keep her locked up in a pen at home where all good sheep should stay, but I figured I still had an eye on her and maybe, well, if I got some enjoyment out of these films she could too. I never wanted to bother her, but our eyes in my mind understood each other were parallel on the belief that there was so much more to this life contrary to what all the other idiots surrounding us thought.
I went into her room one day last week I believe it was Wednesday, and I simply asked and then begged if we could go to the movies. She first sat quietly without moving a muscle. Finally she said yes, just the word yes, but it was great to hear her say even just one word due to how silent she is. There we finally sat in the theater and the film began. The story began as always with two happy lovers and then a conflict divided the two and then the movie carried on. I wasn't sure if my mom knew this movie like I did, and I definitely wouldn't get an answer if she did or not, because of her dead silence all the time. The suddenly the most miraculous things happened during a scene where a girl who was meant to be with the main guy character said something stupid about how she was so much happier with her new boyfriend. My mom actually chuckled finding it humorous and then asked me " hard to imagine how dumb people can be, not being able to understand who really matters in life, huh ?". We went off on a tangent, talking for the first time in years, all about how dumb people in romantic comedies were and how dumb people surrounding us were. I knew all along she and I really were alike after all.
We then talked constantly in her room for the rest of the week all about philosophical sorts of things. I might be young, but hey, I know a thing or two about life to be able to keep up a conversation with an adult about those sort of things. Mom then poured out her heart about why she did what she did, saying how selfish she was to try and kill herself, but also how necessary of a thing to do it seemed.
This week now took a turn for the worst as I had to give up my duties of being a shepherd involuntarily. My mom had just told me the other day she now had a reason to be a little bit happier since she had someone she actually wanted to talk to--that person being me. And now right as she had a bit of faith in humanity or well at least some faith in as she put it " people like me," she died of a stroke. So unexpected, so hurtful, yet I couldn't cry, I couldn't move, and most of all I couldn't speak. I know will stare at the skies so frustrated because I'll never be able to see through that smog to even begin to search for a heaven that I hope my mom made it to.
I never speak anymore. I just stay inside the theaters for as long as possible. I wonder if my dad could just return home from work and actually give a crap about me, but that's a fat chance. I maintain the silence that my mother maintained. I glue my eyes to the screen still unable to ever cry, and I keep them there watching the romantic comedies. I'm now the shepherd who has lost his sheep, his biggest responsibility that gives off so much joy if the shepherd learns to connect with what he looks after. The sky stays grey, the people around me stay grey, and now the movies I watch seemed to turn into black and white films with every passing day. Those fools in love talk and talk and I just sit in the front row, with frozen-over hearts without a single word to say.

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